Weighted blankets and vests are already a common and accepted practice among therapists and special education teachers. Teachers usually report that the vests help with stereotypical behavior, decrease melt-downs and help students remain on task during occupational therapy or physical therapy sessions.
I have used weighted vests in my classroom. It was an occupational therapist who observed me put a weighted vest on a student as an antecedent behavior during calendar time who first sent me research on weighted vests and an email explaining that it might actually be ineffective.
That was about 10 years ago. Recently I was gifted a weighted blanket for myself (which I use because I love it) and I wondered, has the research changed in ten years?
In the last ten years, the research into weighted vests is still mixed. Most of the articles I found showed that there was no improvement in using a weighted vest with individuals with autism. I did find some research that showed that using weighted blankets and/or vests with people with ADHD, depression, and anxiety was beneficial.
As I was going through the research I did find some general guidelines to follow if you choose to use a weighted vest in your classroom:
- Like any other intervention, the whole child needs to be taken into consideration. If you try a vest or blanket and the student seems to be in distress, discontinue use.
- Have the student’s consent. You can keep weighted blankets, vests, beanie animals and other items open and out for your students. The items should be requested.
- Students need to be monitored at all times when using a weighted vest/blanket for respiratory distress. Their head should never be covered by the weight.
- Do not forget to take data and use the data you have collected to determine whether weight is a useful intervention for your student.
- DO NOT FORCE a student into a weighted vest or a “time-out” with a weighted blanket. Inappropriate use of weighted items has led to death of students.
- Weight should be 10% or less of the student’s total body weight.
- Do not use with children under the age of 3.
For more information on research regarding weighted vests and/or blankets: